Letters to the Editor: 'Alternative Facts' at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport

Liv Snesrud writes that representatives of the Population, Immigration and Border Authority presented misinformation about her in a January 8 article

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 7, 2018.
קובי גדעון / לע"מ

Re: “Israel Expels Norwegian Aid Worker During New Foreign Minister’s First Official Visit,” (Haaretz, January 8)

On January 8, Haaretz printed a news article with the heading “Israel Expels Norwegian Aid Worker During New Foreign Minister’s First Official Visit.” The fact that I am an aid worker, and that I am employed by Norwegian Church Aid, are the only true facts presented about me. 

Some weeks later, more "alternative facts" were created as two more Norwegians were expelled. This time, Interior Minister Arye Dery tweeted that he took personal responsibility for denying their entry and accused them of intending to “disturb the order in the Palestinian territory.”

Politics not security threats

These two cases demonstrate that this is about politics, not actual security threats. The truth is twisted and false accusations are being repeated. It is Israel’s right to deny anyone access. But false accusations cannot remain uncontested.

The two Norwegians expelled on January 30 were going to take part in the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme [sic] in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The purpose of my visit was meetings and program monitoring, including for EAPPI. Since 2016, around 30 people involved with the program have been denied access and deported. 

EAPPI is a legitimate and transparent program supported by churches around the world and by the United Nations. To the contrary of what some accuse it of, EAPPI does not promote BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel]. Its purpose is to reduce tensions on the ground and to promote a just peace for both peoples of the region. Stakeholders include Jewish-Israeli counterparts who share the vision of a just peace for all living in the Holy Land. Ecumenical Accompaniers monitor the situation and report violent incidents to the UN. Positive acknowledgement by many individual Israeli soldiers contributes to the conclusion that they do succeed in reducing violence from both sides. 

Consistent misinformation

If it were not for the mentioning of my organization in the Haaretz article, I would not have understood that it was about me. Logs in the Israeli Population, Immigration and Border Authority’s database would prove that the misinformation served to the readers of Haaretz by the representative of the population authority was consistent. I have only lived in Jerusalem for a period of less than one year and have not set foot in Israel since 2016. The official reason given for denying me entry to Israel was “facilitation of illegal immigration.” This is as misleading and untrue as the “activist” label. 

The current political climate in Israel gives reason to expect further limitations on access to the country in the time to come. Sadly, truth does not seem to be of much interest when the population authority implements the Entry Into Israel Law with its recent amendments.

Liv Snesrud
Special adviser, Norwegian Church Aid

This letter was updated on March 6 to reflect the full version of Liv Snesrud's original letter.